Maritime technology is evolving fast as companies and countries try to cut costs and meet more stringent environmental standards.


The Oceanbird is a wind-powered: ‘pure car and truck carrier’ which can carry up to 7000 vehicles. At over 200m in length and displacing 32,000-tonnes, it is about the same size as HMAS Adelaide (230m and 27,800t unloaded). Adelaide’s economical cruising speed is 15 knots compared to the wind-powered Oceanbird which runs at 10 knots. An Atlantic crossing would take about ten days, 50% longer than conventional ships. However, as the cargo is non-perishable, time is not a significant factor. The hull and ‘sails’ work as one and the futuristic sails are like aeroplane wings using aerodynamic technology. The sails can also be lowered to allow access to canals, ports and harbours. Oceanbird is a collaborative project between a shipping company, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and SSPA Sweden. It is partly funded by the Swedish Government. Worth considering how this type of technology might benefit Australia by cutting shipping costs and protecting the environment.